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Obituaries Australia

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Callaghan, Sir Allan Robert (1903–1993)

Agricultural dynamo and fine diplomat.

The former chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir Allan Callaghan, died on Sunday.

He was 89.

Described as agriculture's dynamo of influence, Sir Allan was principal of Roseworthy Agricultural College, Adelaide, from 1923 to 1949.

He steered it through one of its most difficult times, following a student strike in late 1931 which led to a Royal Commission into the college.

Sir Allan was educated at Bathurst High School, Sydney, Sydney University, where he was a champion athlete.

After gaining an agricultural science degree, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.

On returning to Australia he was made principal of Roseworthy at the age of 27, an appointment which surprised many in agricultural and education circles.

Sir Allan is described as one of two great SA public servants to drag the State's agriculture "kicking and screaming" into the 20th century.

After leaving Roseworthy he was appointed director of agriculture in SA, a position he held for 10 years.

Following the death of his youngest son, he and his wife Zellah moved to Washington in 1950, where he became Australia's first commedcial counsellor at the Australian Embassy.

Zillah Callaghan died five years later, and Sir Allen accepted the chairmanship of the Australian Wheat Board.

There he forged commercial wheat deals with China, despite Australia not officially recognising the Chinese Government, and also managed to sell an average of eight million tonnes of wheat a year to more than 50 countries.

Sit Allan, who leaves a widow, Doreen, and three children, was knighted in 1972 for service to agriculture.

A service will be held at St Michael's Anglican Church, Mitcham, on Saturday.

Original publication

  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 19 July 1993

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Callaghan, Sir Allan Robert (1903–1993)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 September 2020.

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